LADWP looks to reinstate its Solar Incentive Program and introduce a new FiT program

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After being on a temporary hiatus since April 8, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) Solar Incentive Program (SIP) is looking to make a comeback as early as this September. LADWP has introduced a proposal to reinstate the SIP program, which will feature double the funding levels for the next three years with incentive levels falling in line with the California Solar Initiative and market pricing in general.

“Our rebates for residential, commercial, government and non-profit customers will still beat the state incentive levels when you consider that LADWP will continue offering a higher incentive to customers who elect to sell their Renewable Energy Credit to LADWP,” said Lorraine Paskett, senior assistant general manager of sustainability programs and external affairs.

Over the past 90 days that the SIP program has been in suspension, LADWP has reviewed the program guidelines, looked for alternative funding and caught up with the backlog of rebate applications and inspections. Recently, LADWP General Manager Ronald Nichols and Senior Assistant General Manager of Power Systems, Aram Benyamin noted the demand for local solar power generation in the Los Angeles area and proposed a new FiT program to the Board of Water and Power Commissioners. Under the FiT program, third parties will be able to sell renewable energy to LADWP’s citywide electric grid, which would fit nicely under the  State’s SB32 legislation that calls for utilities to offer a 75MW FiT program.

“During public workshops, we heard overwhelming support for expanding local solar power, including fully funding the SIP and launching a Feed In Tariff program, to benefit customers, the environment and the green economy in Los Angeles. These two initiatives, if approved, will work together to expand renewable energy within our service area and contribute to our renewable energy goal of 33% by 2020,” Benyamin said.

LADWP is looking to get feedback from customers and stakeholders in a public workshop scheduled to be held July 14. As both the SIP and FiT programs are subject to review and approval by the Board of Water & Power Commissioners, the public’s input will help LADWP refine the proposed demonstration project before policy approval is sought. The Board and City Council are expected to start reviews on the SIP and FiT programs in August, which leads LADWP to anticipate restarting the SIP program in September.

LADWP’s proposed FiT program is initially set to install 75MW of distributed renewable energy, which would allow solar developers and customers alike to take advantage of federal tax credits for the solar systems. The utility is targeting mid-size renewable energy projects, which will be built within its service area, and has proposed to buy the power produced by the solar systems under a standard offer PPA with a negotiated fixed price and time period. LADWP has suggested that it will begin the FiT program with a 5MW demonstration program this fall, which would give the utility leeway to change and improve the program based on actual experience.

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